When the weather becomes friendly, you know that the hiking season is here once again. Hikers gain a lot from their hobby, such as seeing beautiful views, spending quality time with nature and the wilderness, improving mental stamina, and a host of other physical perks.
Just a single hour of trekking can already burn as much as 500 calories or more, depending on your pack’s weight and on the incline. This is often associated to better skills in problem solving and improved attention span, as well as decrease in cholesterol and blood pressure.
However, before packing your gear and heading out for the hills, it is a must to know how to make your legs stronger for you to enjoy a better and faster hike. Here are a few tips and simple exercises you can try to develop stronger legs ready for conquering heights.
Based on studies, it has been revealed that you expend thrice the amount of energy when you walk downhill as you walk up. Avoid soreness and aches in the days after your upcoming hike through training for the downhill climb before heading outside. The fix involves some eccentric exercises or working your muscles as these can lengthen instead of contract.
Stretch It Out
If your hips are a bit tight, the entire balance of your legs and their comfort might be thrown off. It could even get worse if you are tugging with you a heavy pack during your hike However, by stretching those hip flexors, you can make your hike easier.
Build More Power
To hike stronger is to hike faster. However, increasing your speed can usually seem like a tedious mental game. In order to push through this mental state, you can borrow a philosophy from the cyclists. Opt for high speed but low intensity workouts for quickening your pace. Trying to teach your body to hike at a faster rate is as simple as being able to master the lightening quick movements of the legs. This is what you call the neuromuscular tension or simply training your leg muscles to fire faster.
Exercises to Strengthen Your Leg to Prepare Them to Hit the Trails
You can focus more on the endurance of your muscles for the initial 4 to 6 weeks through doing more repetitions with a lighter weight. After that, increase your muscle strength through decreasing repetitions and increasing weight. Keep your spine in neutral position through contracting in your abdominals, lifting your chest, and depressing and retracting your shoulder blades.
- Squats target core, hips, and front of your thighs.
- Stand tall with your feet apart at hip width.
- Keep your heels in contact with the floor while you lower your hips back.
- Knees should remain behind the toes.
- Lower as far down as you can as you keep your chest open and your spine straight.
- Go back up to your initial position.
- Repeat for 15 to 25 repetitions for 1 to 3 sets.
To have an additional work to the core, keep your arms overhead in line with the ears while performing the squats.
The stationary lunges target the core, hips, and thighs.
- Stand tall in staggered stance.
- The front foot must be flat, with the back heel raised with weight between the back and front foot.
- Lower straight down little by little through keeping your weight balanced evenly between your legs.
- Never let the front knee go beyond your toes and keep the weight on the front heel.
- Go back up to your starting position then repeat 15 to 25 reps.
- Do the same sequence on the other leg.
- Perform one to three sets of alternating sides.
These target thighs and butt.
- Stand tall while facing a step or platform which is around 6 to 20 inches tall.
- Step your right foot on the platform then squeeze your butt while transferring your weight to the right leg.
- The left foot must tap the platform, or you can raise the left knee for extra balance training.
- You can lower back down with some ounce of control.
- Do the same sequence on the right for 15 to 25 reps.
Repeat the sequence on the other leg, with 1 to 3 sets on alternate sides.
Stationary Side Lunges
These target thighs, hips, and butt.
- Stand tall with your feet wider than your shoulders.
- Your left leg should stay straight while bending your right knee and pushing back your hips.
- Lower as far a possible while keeping the spine neutral.
- Go back up to your initial position and repeat for 15 to 25 reps on the same side.
- Repeat the sequence on the other side alternating the two sides for 1 to 3 sets.
- You are going to feel the stretch through your inner thigh, with your glutes getting to work.
For a core challenge, you can raise straight your arms out while lowering down, as long as you only use lighter weights to do it.
These work all the stabilizing muscles of your ankle, knee, and hip.
- Stand on low platform of 2 to 6 inches tall.
- Put your hands on hip bones with your chest open and abs in.
- Lower the right heel slowly to the ground but focus on keeping knees stable and your hips parallel. Don’t let the left knee cave in or wobble while performing the exercise.
- It is best to look at your hips and knee in the mirror.
- Go back up as you straighten your left leg.
Do it again for 8 to 15 reps for 1 to 3 sets.
These are just some of the tips and exercises on how to make your legs stronger for your next hike. Just make sure you consult first with your physician before you perform more intensive workouts.